Pandemic benefits rolled into monthly payout
OTTAWA — The Liberals are repackaging two previously promised benefits for Canadians whose working lives are disrupted by COVID-19, a change that will almost double direct financial aid in the government’s economic plan to $52 billion.
Combining the benefits into one will mean a $2,000-a-month payment for up to four months to workers whose income drops to zero because of the pandemic, including if they have been furloughed by their employers, but technically still have jobs.
Finance Minister Bill Morneau said the measure allows companies to temporarily let go of workers to cut payroll costs, but puts money in the affected employees’ pockets.
“Companies don’t need to separate their employee from their company. They just need to say, ‘We can’t pay you during this time period.’ And when that happens, there is a direct wage subsidy to people, to employees so that they can actually live their lives,” he said. Affected workers will have to fill out an online application and meet conditions to qualify. It will apply to workers affected between March 15 and Oct. 3. Over the last week or so, there have been almost a million new EI claims — far above the typical 45,000.